One of the things I love the most about summer is the absolute bounty of fresh veggies it produces! As summer draws to a close and an excess of fresh tomatoes, green beans, and corn from Chris’s garden fill our refrigerator – avocado salad is definitely my favorite way to utilize the harvest. Even if you don’t like salads (or avocados) I promise you’ll like this one – It’s that good. Just ask those who attended the Manchester VFW Annual BBQ this summer – It got rave reviews, even from the kids! (And the reason I’m writing this blog post is I promised at least ten people I’d get them the recipe.) I’ll definitely be making it again next year! This pairs perfectly with anything you feel like throwing on the grill, it’s substantial enough that it can stand on it’s own on as a side, but our favorite way to serve it is over grilled chicken breasts with Chris’s brown sugar barbecue rub.
The following is what I’d make to serve four. Ask Chris, and he’ll tell you I have a bit of an issue with overcooking (It’s genetic, one thanksgiving my mom made two turkeys to test brining vs. not brining – sidenote: it’s not worth the trouble – and a ham just in case.) so there will definitely be leftovers. For being full of avocados this dish keeps surprisingly well and it’s so good you will be happy to have them, its also great on a taco. #yourewelcome
For the VFW picnic I quadrupled the recipe and it filled an entire Bennington Pottery Family Reunion Bowl which is probably the largest serving bowl on the market. It served about 50-75 people in a buffet of summer salads and we had leftovers (yay!).
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 large (end of summer) or two smaller sized zucchini, sliced then quartered
- 2 small to medium sized peppers, diced – whatever you got growing! I like to use a jalepeno and a big bell pepper. Bear in mind this will affect the spiciness of the salad so if you’re not sure stick with mild peppers for your first time, you can add spice in the seasoning to compensate if it doesn’t have enough kick!
- 2 ears of corn, cooked & chipped off the cob or 1 can of the best canned corn you’ve ever had (throwing two extra ears on the grill the night before with dinner is the best way to have fresh corn & not have it be a pain in the butt, plus grilled corn tastes better than boiled in this dish)
- 1 cup of green beans, cut into quarter lengths
- 2 ripe avocados, halved and diced in their skin (I sometimes do three cause I love them so much)
- 2 green onion shoots, sliced
- 2 tablespoons Truvia Nectar (you can also use honey or agave too)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- A spritz of olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon of salt (plus a few additional sprinkles)
- 3 teaspoons of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
- Optional: 4 slices of bacon, cooked ’til crispy & broken into bits
- Or for Vegetarians/Vegans: make this dish more substantial and get some protein by adding black eyed peas or your favorite bean!
About an hour prior to assembling the salad, Take your serving bowl and pop it in the refrigerator to cool, if you forget you can do this fast in the freezer but make sure not to let it get frosty. You’ll also want to take the tomatoes & put them in a bowl lined with 3 layers of paper towels. Separate from the tablespoon of salt you need, take your shaker or preferably a grinder and sprinkle them well with salt, add another paper towel to the top, and set aside.
Once you’re ready to do the bulk of the salad preparation, take the onions, bell peppers, avocado oil, and half of the salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and combine in a skillet over medium heat. Once the onions start to soften and brown, add the green beans, turn the heat up a little (to a medium high) and cook until the green beans are browned well but still firm. Remove from heat immediately and transfer your chilled serving bowl to cool, make sure to get all of the oil as this is part of the “dressing” of the salad.
Next line a microwave safe plate with 2 layers of paper towels and spread out your zucchini evenly. Then spray lightly them with olive oil spray, sprinkle or grind a little salt on them, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of your garlic powder on them. Microwave for 2-3 minutes on high depending on the power of your microwave until cooked al dente.
Now add the zucchini, corn, tomatoes, Truvia Nectar, and all remaining salt & seasonings to the serving bowl and mix well. Then use a spoon to scoop the diced avocados into the bowl, pour the lemon or lime juice over the avocado, this will help with keeping the avocado green. Then, mix well – but do not over mix, the more you mix the more the avocado will dissolve into dressing and you still want some chunks of it. I usually do over-mix, and that’s where I decide to add a third avocado! So do whatever you want!
Your last and final step is to taste this delicious dish you just made! It should taste sweet, but have some kick to it- and the cumin should be noticeable, this is is the key to it tasting so home-y and delicious. Depending on the freshness & quality of your spices, you may need to add some more of something and adjust to your taste. Trust me – it’s amazing the difference in taste between a fresh spice and one that’s sat in the back of a cabinet for a year or more! If it feels like it needs a little more balance, between spicy and sweet, try adding a little more paprika before adding more heat.
Once you’ve tasted your work, you can serve immediately, but I prefer to let it chill for at least a half hour, especially when serving it as a hearty condiment over chicken because I think condiments should be cold.
This recipe is also super flexible and you can add pretty much any vegetable your garden may offer to it (or may need to get eaten in your fridge) and it will still be good, but make sure not to add anything too wet (cucumbers were good but did not keep and made the dish soggy), summer squash should be prepared like the zucchini if added and anything wet should sit on some paper towels for a bit before being added. I know this recipe is a little paper towel heavy – and I’m sorry to the environment for that – but it really is the key to keeping this salad from getting too soggy! If you feel weird about it, it’s ok, you can compost most of the ones you use as long as they don’t have oil on them.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe, as the days turn cooler, we’ll be sharing some of our other other favorite meals for using up our gardens harvest like Sunday Gravy & Tortilla Casserole. But before we let summer salads go – here’s a little roundup of some of my favorite recipes by others we tested out and loved that I’m sure you’ll love as well!